Background & Purpose: The present study examines whether adolescent mother–adolescent father group is at higher risk for harsh parenting behavior than older parent groups and predictors of harsh parenting risk among mothers, with a focus on paternal influence.
Methodology: This study used data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing (FFCW) study, which is a national longitudinal study of diverse urban families with new births. Three proxies for harsh parenting behavior were used: Psychological aggression, physical aggression, both from the Parent to Child version of the Conflict Tactics Scales (CTS-PC), and self-reports of maternal spanking. Analyses examined a range of demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of mothers and fathers.
Results: Multivariate analyses indicated that age of parents mattered and that the adolescent mothers paired with adolescent fathers were at higher risk for maternal harsh parenting behavior than the old-adult mothers with old-adult fathers. With regard to father-related predictors, employment status, depression, coercive behavior toward the mother, and use of spanking were significant predictors of maternal harsh parenting behavior.
Conclusions & Implications: Findings from this study emphasized that the prevention of adolescent motherhood and fatherhood must be a priority as well as intervention programs for such young couples. It is also imperative that more comparative studies on adult males involved with adolescent females be conducted as less is known about their role in family life. This study calls for ongoing research, more effective attention on youth, and collaboration from various professionals involved in youth education, child welfare, child development, and health.